Mireya Grey completed a final exam for a sociology class called “Murder” on Thursday.
She’ll play for the Jamaican national team in the Women’s World Cup against Italy on Friday morning.
It’s been an understandably surreal week and a half for the Seattle native and University of Washington junior forward, who was called upon to join the “Reggae Girlz” as an injury replacement June 3.
“That phone call was really funny, because it actually started with a text literally 30 seconds before,” Grey said in a phone interview from Reims, France, on Wednesday. “They said, ‘Hey, are you healthy? Are you fit?’ I was like, ‘Yes.’ Just one word. Then (Jamaica coach Hugh Menzies) called me in two seconds and was like, ‘Great. Since you’re healthy, can you come to France?’”
And so she came to France … after, of course, Grey finished a few finals. The former Seattle Academy standout — who has scored one goal in 29 games during her first two seasons at UW — said that she “wrote a couple papers while I was here and while I was on the plane ride.” She made it in time to serve as a substitute for Jamaica’s 3-0 defeat to Brazil on Sunday.
But, needless to say, Grey has yet to fully process the opportunity at hand. The speedy 5-foot-3 forward — whose father is Jamaican — is still adjusting to the nine-hour time difference. She completed the “Murder” final — “It’s a really interesting class,” she added — Thursday, while the team’s assistant manager served as the proctor and watched her work.
She’s juggling meals, meetings and practices; she’s also attempting to digest the fact that this isn’t all a dream.
“I got to meet (Brazilian forward) Marta, who’s like the best player ever,” Grey said. “I got a cool video with her and awesome pictures. That kind of stuff is satisfying the little girl in me.
“But until I get on the field and show people what Jamaica really can do, I feel like I’m not experiencing all of the World Cup.”
When it comes to the Washington Huskies, she won’t experience it alone. Dominique Bond-Flasza — a 5-6 defender who started 80 of 82 games for UW from 2014 to 2017 — is a big reason why Jamaica made the flight to France at all. The 22-year-old Laguna Niguel, Calif., product delivered the winning penalty kick in the third-place game of the CONCACAF women’s championship against Panama last October.
When Bond-Flasza buried said rocket in the upper-right-hand netting, Jamaica became the first Caribbean nation ever to qualify for the Women’s World Cup.
“To be able to experience that with my teammates, to help us qualify for a historic moment, it was an amazing accomplishment,” Bond-Flasza said Wednesday. “I’m glad that I got to be a part of that.”
That “historic moment” is all the more miraculous considering how far Jamaica’s women’s soccer program has come. The women’s national team was disbanded because of a lack of funding in 2008, 2014 and 2016, and the country’s women’s league was shuttered in 2015. Cedella Marley — the daughter of Jamaican reggae legend Bob Marley — was instrumental in funding and raising awareness for the since-reformed Reggae Girlz.
But nothing would bolster support quite like a couple unexpected World Cup wins.
“I would say it’s helped in the sense of showing that women can actually play the sport and they belong in the sport,” Bond-Flasza said of Jamaica’s first Women’s World Cup appearance. “It’s helped the grassroots program in Jamaica, helping not only younger girls but boys to see that it is possible to achieve your dreams.”
Bond-Flasza achieved a personal dream in Sunday’s World Cup opener, logging all 90 minutes in the 3-0 loss to Brazil.
“I don’t think there’s anything that truly prepares you for that,” Bond-Flasza said. “You go into the match and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘OK, there’s going to be a lot of people here.’ You prepare mentally for that. There’s going to be a lot of noise.
“But you don’t realize how big of a stage it is until you’re actually on the pitch with 17,000 people screaming. To play soccer in an environment like that is just amazing.”
Bond-Flasza has played soccer in quite a few different environments already. The daughter of a Polish father and a Jamaican mother, she hails from California but also lived in Canada for 14 years. And since wrapping up her college career at UW, she has played professionally for the Dutch team PSV Vrouwen.
Still, there’s admittedly nothing quite like the Women’s World Cup.
“When they played the Jamaican national anthem in our first match and hearing our crowd sing the anthem with us … I did tear up,” Bond-Flasza said. “I did not cry, but it was quite an emotional anthem for us.”
Friday’s match should be equally emotional for Bond-Flasza and Grey, two Huskies who represent more than just Jamaica when they step onto the pitch.
“I feel like I haven’t really been at the World Cup yet, and I don’t think it’ll really feel like that until after the World Cup,” Bond-Flasza said. “But to be able to represent UW is just crazy. It’s unbelievable.
“People have been asking, ‘How does it feel to be at the World Cup?’ I’m like, ‘Oh. I don’t know yet!’ I just arrived. So right now you’re so enclosed in the environment of playing that you don’t really realize the emotions and the feeling of it until you step back and realize, ‘Hey, I just played in the World Cup.’”